Yeah, what he said …


I usually enjoy the commentary of “Derek Lowe.”:http://www.corante.com/pipeline Today he has an especially pointed article about “capitalism and research.”:http://www.corante.com/pipeline/archives/2004/12/05/beg_to_differ.php Someone apparently made the comment that people in the pharma industry are like automatons producing science for the big profit machine. And it is true that the pharma _business_ is about profit, much the same as the soda _business_ or the entertainment _business_. However, being in business for profit does not mean that workers are automatons. I’d be willing to wager that any job that can be performed without thought will be replaced by a machine in a matter of months or a few years.

Even within the bounds of a contract or regulations there is always room for surprise, and that is why the pharma industry depends on thousands of intelligent and well-educated people. People’s bodies do the darndest things, and, when it comes down to it, we really don’t know how most drugs work. Because we don’t know how drugs work, we can’t really anticipate what rare but serious side effect there will be, and so we have to be on the lookout for them. We have to be able to distinguish side effects of a drug from other illnesses, etc., etc. and the list goes on.

The business side of pharma drives research at a breakneck pace. But it’s not like a “Coca-cola”:http://www.coke.com factory where one simply monitors the conditions of the machines that produce and bottle. This is real research, and the people I work with are very interested in science, and I’ve been known on occasion to find some unexpected surprises. If I didn’t, I’d change industries.

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